Essex: Major boost as Market Field School given £8.5million for revamp
PUBLISHED: 18:34 06 December 2012 | UPDATED: 09:48 07 December 2012
A SCHOOL nicknamed “shed city” because of its nine makeshift classrooms is celebrating after being given £8.5million for improvements.
Gary Smith, headteacher of Market Field School at Elmstead Market, near Colchester, has led a 10-year campaign to modernise the site.
Mr Smith – who was congratulated on the success by Prime Minister David Cameron – said the decision by Essex County Council (ECC) was “a dream come true”.
Market Field, which cares for children with special needs, was originally built for 70 children. Pupil numbers have since soared to 182, but the school buildings have not kept pace – more than half of lessons have been taking place in temporary classrooms.
A feasibility study will be carried out next year to decide how best to spend the £8.5m, but there are plans to create a school for 200 pupils, including 60 in a specialist autism unit.
Mr Smith said: “This is a dream come true for Market Field.
“I owe a great vote of thanks to the loyal group of people who have worked tirelessly to support the school, including our county councillor Sarah Candy and local politicians, Bernard Jenkin, Bob Russell and Douglas Carswell.
“But most of all I have the great honour of being inspired by our pupils on a daily basis. This is fantastic news for wonderful pupils and staff. We will repay every penny of Essex County Council’s faith in us.”
Mr Cameron said in a statement: “I congratulate headteacher Gary Smith and the wonderful staff and pupils of Market Field School on getting the money to build a new school fit for the 21st Century. I was lucky enough to meet Gary and some of the children when they came to Downing Street.
“Market Field’s consistently excellent performances in Ofsted inspections show that the best special needs schools have a vital role to play in ensuring all children get the best possible education.”
Peter Martin, ECC leader, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to make good on our promises to improve Market Field School and can finally give the pupils and teachers the facilities they deserve.”
Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex said: “When I visited the school before the last election, I promised the pupils I would do all in my power to get them the new school they so richly deserve.
“I am delighted Essex County Council and Peter Martin have enabled this promise to be delivered.”